||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
Alek Wek at the Red Collection 2007 for The Heart Truth campaign
16 April 1977
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Hair color||Dark Brown|
|Measurements||34-23-34.5 (US) 86.5-58-88|
|Dress size||4 (US)|
|Manager||Storm Models, London|
Alek Wek (born 16 April 1977) is a South Sudanese British Supermodel and designer who first appeared on the catwalks at the age of 18 in 1995, sparking a career lasting to date. Her presence had a huge impact on the perception of beauty in the fashion model industry. She is from the Dinka ethnic group in South Sudan, but in 1991 she and some family members fled to Britain to escape the civil war in Sudan. She later moved to the United States.
Wek was born the seventh of nine children in Wau in Sudan (now South Sudan) in 1977. When she was preparing to emigrate from Sudan, her mother picked the date 16 April, which occurs in the rainy season during which she was born. She says her name means "Black Spotted Cow". Wek was born to her mother (b. 1946), a housewife, and her father Athian Wek (1933-1985), an education official. Alek Wek has stated that physically, she resembles her father, who also had unusually long limbs. Athian Wek once broke his hip in a bicycle accident; his hip was repaired with metal pins. When the civil war broke out in Wau in 1985, the Wek family had to flee from both rebel and government forces. Long periods of walking caused Athian Wek's hip to get infected, and upon the family's return to Wau, he became paralysed and endured a haemorrhage. He died in hospital in Khartoum.
Wek was discovered at an outdoor market in London in 1995 in Crystal Palace, London  by a Models 1 scout. She first received attention when she appeared in the music video for "GoldenEye" by Tina Turner, in 1995 and from there entered the world of fashion as one of its top models. She was signed to Ford Models in 1996 and was also seen in the "Got 'Til It's Gone" music video by Janet Jackson that year. She was named "Model of the Year" in 1997 by MTV. She was the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle, also in 1997.
Advertising and catwalks
Amongst other things she has done advertisements for top fashion brands including Issey Miyake, Moschino, Victoria's Secret and make-up company Clinique as well as walked the runway for high-profile fashion designers Shiatzy Chen, John Galliano, Chanel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Jasper Conran and Ermanno Scervino. In walks for Christian Lacroix, she took the role of the bride on several occasions. She has also been featured in countless publication including American and British Vogue. Including her highly published cover on Elle magazine she has been on the the cover of several magazines such as i-D Magazine, Canadian, German and Japanese Vogue, Cosmopolitan magazine, Glamour magazine, Forbes magazine Africa and she has appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine many times including the September 2007 cover with top Black Supermodels Iman, Tyra Banks, and Kimora Lee Simmons. In 2002 she made her acting debut in The Four Feathers as Sudanese princess Aquol.
Alek broke down barriers in the modelling world. Dark skin models rarely succeeded in the high fashion industry. Her mainstream success was celebrated by black women all over the world. African American Oprah Winfrey commented that “if [Wek] had been on the cover of a magazine when I was growing up, I would have had a different concept of who I was.” 
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o mentioned in a speech on black beauty that when she was a teenager and had insecurities about herself seeing Alek, a dark skinned black woman like herself in the spotlight made her feel beautiful. "When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,” she added. “Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty".
Wek also designs a range of designer handbags called "Wek 1933", which are available throughout selected Selfridges department stores. The year refers to the year her father was born. Her inspiration for the designs came from the brass-clasp briefcase carried by her father.
Wek is a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees' Advisory Council and is helping to raise awareness about the situation in Sudan, as well as the plight of refugees worldwide.
In 2007, she released an autobiography, entitled Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel, documenting her journey from a childhood of poverty in Sudan to the catwalks of Europe.
In July 2012, she will be returning to South Sudan with the UN Refugee Agency to highlight the stories of refugees returning from the north and the massive efforts needed to build and stabilize the country.
In 2012 Alek teamed up with Amarula as the face of their campaign African Originals.
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- Jasper Conran Spring/Summer 2009 Collection[dead link]
- "The Four Feathers". Salon.com. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- Herrick, Linda (10 December 2001). "Joanne Gair's designs on celebrities". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Campbell, Denise (2006). "Couture carryall: fashion model Alek Wek designs luxury handbags". findarticles.com. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Steve Dow, Journalist". Stevedow.com.au. 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- "Alek Wek profile: news, photos, style, videos and more â€" HELLO! Online". Hellomagazine.com. 2000-12-31. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- "Alek Wek". AskMen. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel[dead link]
- July 3, 2012 (2012-07-03). "Alek Wek's Journey Home". Bluekeyblog.org. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
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